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March 21, 2013

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8 busted in arson, beating of business competitors

POLICE said they busted a gang that included a company owner and out-of-town hooligans that intimidated business rivals through arson, beatings and threats.

Eight people have been detained in the investigation, which was begun after a fire was found to be arson at an electric appliance maker in suburban Fengxian District in December. In that case, part of a factory building and two cars were burned with a total loss of more than 200,000 yuan (US$32,194), police said. The company's name was not released.

In the early morning of January 17, some suspicious men were seen sneaking onto company property again, but they fled before police arrived. Officers later found bottles of gasoline outside the factory, "enough to burn the place again," a detective said.

Police determined that the company in Fengxian was not the only victim, since some other electric appliance companies in Songjiang and Minhang districts had also had problems. They weren't named.

"They all sell electric equipment and their salesmen were all beaten by others after receiving calls threatening them, telling them not to sell their products," officers said.

Police began to suspect the threats were coming from a company in Minhang that was a competitor. Many of the staff at the company that had the arson, including the boss, were former employees of the unnamed company that police suspected, owned by a man surnamed Zhu. Police said they identified another suspect surnamed Li who was very close to Zhu and who often hired hooligans from Henan Province to commit crimes in the city.

The suspects were caught in February.

Zhu told police that he hired the gangsters to use arson and violence to shut down competitors because as his company's sales kept dropping.


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